It began with controversy; in 1973 Pina Bausch was appointed director of dance for the Wuppertal theatres and the form she developed in those early years, a mixture of dance and theatre, was wholly unfamiliar. In her performances the players did not merely dance; they spoke, sang – and sometimes they cried or laughed too. But this strange new work succeeded in establishing itself. In Wuppertal the seeds were sown for a revolution which was to emancipate and redefine dance throughout the world. Dance theatre evolved into a unique genre, inspiring choreographers throughout the world and influencing theatre and classical ballet too. Its global success can be attributed to the fact that Pina Bausch made a universal need the key subject of her work: the need for love, for intimacy and emotional security. To this end she developed an artistic form which could incorporate highly diverse cultural influences. In consistently renewed poetic excursions she investigated what brings us closer to fulfilling our need for love, and what distances us from it. Hers is a world theatre which does not seek to teach, does not claim to know better, instead generating experiences: exhilarating or sorrowful, gentle or confrontational – often comic or absurd too. It creates driven, moving images of inner landscapes, exploring the precise state of human feelings while never giving up hope that the longing for love can one day be met. Alongside hope, a close engagement with reality is another key to the work; the pieces consistently relate to things every member of the audience knows; has experienced personally and physically. Over the thirty-six years in which Pina Bausch shaped the work of the Tanztheater Wuppertal, till her death in 2009, she created a an oeuvre which casts an unerring gaze at reality, while simultaneously giving us the courage to be true to our own wishes and desires. Her unique ensemble, rich with varied personalities, will continue to maintain these values in the years to come.
Translated by Steph Morris
Pina Bausch was born 1940 in Solingen and died 2009 in Wuppertal. She received her dance training at the Folkwang School in Essen under Kurt Jooss, where she achieved technical excellence. Soon after the director of Wuppertal’s theatres, Arno Wüstenhöfer, engaged her as choreographer, from autumn 1973, she renamed the ensemble the Tanztheater Wuppertal. Under this name, although controversial at the beginning, the company gradually achieved international recognition. Its combination of poetic and everyday elements influenced the international development of dance decisively. Awarded some of the greatest prizes and honours world-wide, Pina Bausch is one of the most significant choreographers of our time.